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Cows, Calves and Breaching Whales!

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Education | Whale Watching

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Julien

These last few weeks of April have been filled with mother and baby gray whale moments. This is the peak time of the season where we see the most cow/calf pairs heading back to Alaska since they are the last groups to leave Baja. Since the 15th we have seen 14 pairs of mother and calf grays, sometimes shy and sometimes not. Some mothers will keep their calf hidden on the opposite side of her as we watch them go by, and others will show their calves in plain sight. We have gotten a few great looks of these extremely young grays and it is so hard to believe they have to make close to a 6,000 mile journey within the first couple months of their lives! Some of our trips have even been lucky enough to see 2-3 cow calf pairs in one day of whale watching. The adult gray counts have really started to dwindle with only 14 sightings.

Blue whale season has officially started as of May 1st, so we will start venturing out to deeper waters to see if they have begun their feeding frenzy. We will often spot them filter feeding on krill patches along the contours of the underwater canyons that litter our coastline along the infamous California Bight.

Some of the highlights of these last few weeks have been many breaching whales. Recently, we have seen gray whales breaching within a few feet of the boat which is very exciting and not often seen. Fin whales have also been reported to be breaching which is extremely rare! Fin whales average at around 65 feet, and that is a lot of whale to get out of the water! We also had a couple of amazing sightings of a couple huge Northern Elephant seals. These seals are typically found in colonies on San Clemente and Santa Barbara Island, but may have been in the area foraging. Adult male elephant seals can weigh over 5,000 pounds and have been known to dive over 2,000 feet for squid! The individuals we saw looked to be a few thousand pounds and when floating at the surface looked like small whales. It is a special treat and we even have a couple of photos of one popping his head out of the water.

We also have an update on the humpback sightings from earlier this month. After comparing the barnacle positions and fluke shots of the whales, we have determined that they were two different individuals. Dolphin sightings have been phenomenal with thousands of common dolphins feeding on bait fish and proposing alongside the boat and a few bottlenose sightings as well. As you can see there is so much to see out on the water and every day is different, so come out if you feel adventurous!

Cows, Calves and Breaching Whales!
A great shot of a recent blue whale surfacing for air.  | Captain Carl Mayhugh
Cows, Calves and Breaching Whales!
A breaching fin whale!  | Captain Carl Mayhugh
Cows, Calves and Breaching Whales!
A rare sighting of a Northern Elephant Seal checking out our boat.  | Aquarium of the Pacific

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